FW#10 ✍️ How to Self-Edit Your Fundraising Writing

published3 months ago
3 min read

To write is human. To edit is divine.
To write is human. To edit devine. Stephen King

Welcome to the 10th issue of the newsletter dedicated to your donor communications. πŸ’Œ Today's topic is self-editing your work. This newsletter has been through some editing too. More on that and how YOU can best edit your own fundraising writing. I'm glad you're here.


Chicago, Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Hi ,

Some things just go better together...

...peanut butter and jelly
...Scooby-Doo and Shaggy
...the Covid vaccine and your left arm πŸ’‰πŸ™‚

Writing and editing are two peas in a pod, too.

Putting words on the page is an ugly task. (You should see this newsletter in its first draft. It ain't pretty. 😱) Editing, though, gets our writing in shipshape β€” so that we can help donors put their values into action.

To edit well, we need to set our egos aside and be open to change. Big change. Even if it means scrapping what seems to be so perfect at first.

The former name of this newsletter is an example. Early this year, I had a plan of how I was going to use the theme of "teams" in this newsletter. (MVP Quotes, Fanfare, Pep Talks, etc.) Hence, the name "Fundraising Players" came about.

Plus, I thought the name was clever. My image of a player is someone who's in it to win it! πŸ†πŸ™ŒπŸŽ‰

My husband, a writer and English teacher, thought differently. "Players" makes him think along these lines:



I know now that the newsletter's name wasn't as straightforward as it could have been. So, this week I've sharpened my No. 2 pencil and made the name crystal clear. It shall be called "Fundraising Writing" for here on out. ✍️

The lesson? Always choose clarity over cleverness.

How To Self-Edit Your Donor Communications

And Learn to Hate Editing Less

There are two approaches to self-edit your own work.

1. Developmental Editing: Here's where you look at the big picture β€” focusing on the content and structure to bring out the best version of your piece.

2. Line Editing: This is where you go line-by-line to tighten up sentence structure so the language is sharp and clear.

Now, the fun part. (Really, editing is rewarding!)

Developmental Editing Your Fundraising

Don't nitpick at the small details during this edit. Check your fundraising message for these high-level elements:

βœ… You present a human-size problem for the donor to solve.
βœ… Your offer is specific, shows impact, expressed with a cost, and is a good value to the donor.
βœ… You focus on outcomes, not processes or programs.
βœ… You tell the donor why they should give now.
βœ… You show what will happen when they make a gift.
βœ… You express what's at stake if the problem is ignored.
βœ… You share a simple story to emphasize the need.
βœ… You mobilize the donor to act.
βœ… You repeatedly ask for the gift throughout the message.

If you are missing any of these elements, go back and revise.

Pro Tip: Before editing your piece further, read it aloud. This will highlight any glaring errors. When we read silently, our brains will often compensate for missed words and other oversights. Reading aloud will expose many of those mistakes.

Line Editing Your Fundraising

Let's sharpen the language so the fundraising message is clear. Here are some elements to check:

βœ… Replace statistics with how the problem affects one person.
βœ… Delete words that are not necessary or essential.
βœ… Replace weak verbs with strong ones.
βœ… Use contractions to help your writing sound friendlier.
βœ… Remove sentences the donor is likely to skip.
βœ… Purge the jargon and buzzwords.
βœ… Cut a big word when there's an appropriate shorter word.
βœ… Break long sentences into 2 or 3 shorter sentences.
βœ… Create transitions to help with the pacing and flow.
βœ… Vary paragraph lengths, and keep them 6 lines or shorter.
βœ… Be sure your call to action is compelling.

The point here is simple: Every word in your piece must earn its keep. We want the donor to understand their forthcoming impact β€” and we need to make it easy for them to act. πŸ’›

Pro Tip: Let your copy rest between edits. You will catch more errors and do a better job if you’re not tired, bored, or annoyed from looking at the same copy all day long. Put it away and pick it up again in the morning!


Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words. Mark Twain

Free Training On Monday 😊

Want to find out how to create successful Facebook and Instagram fundraising ads?


I will be the guest on Pamela Grow's Motivate Monday on June 14th. Join us for a 30-minute live session on how to put together conversion ads so you can raise more money for your cause.

I'll make creating ads easy for you.πŸ€©πŸ‘‡

What This Free Training Will Do For You:

  1. You'll discover the 3 essential elements for a successful campaign.
  2. It will give you a blueprint to create a well-performing ad that can unlock the power of new and existing donors.
  3. You'll get lots of tips and a bunch of examples to give you inspiration for the next ads you create!

This Monday, jumpstart your week with real-world fundraising training! Register here to be sent the link to join the webinar. This is going to be a super practical session!

Thanks for reading this far, ! I appreciate your generosity in making the world a better place.

See you again soon.

All my best,

An image of Julie Cooper

​Julie Cooper
JB Cooper LLC
Fundraising Copywriter

PS: Did someone forward you this email? Get your own free subscription here. πŸ‘‹



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